Rawalpindi: The proposed revival of the University of Ancient Taxila, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1980 and the largest center of civilization learning in Gandhara, may turn the region into a tourism hub education from around the world after proper publicity and provision of extensive facilities to tourists.
Taxila, one of the most important Buddhist archaeological sites in the world, is located near the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. According to historians, the old university was established around the 5th to 6th century (BC) and continued to attract students from all over the world until its destruction in the 5th century.
Taxila, as a symbol of diversity, should be given due attention to restore its lost glory. Therefore, the Buddhist archaeological sites of the Dharmarajika and Stupa complex can again become the center of excellence in higher education to establish a university of international standard there.
According to experts, Taxila has great potential for religious and educational tourism and could become an international city of education for higher education. The director of the Punjab archives department, Maqsood Ahmed, told the agency that Taxila, formerly Takshashila, was also depicted in the Jataka Buddhist tales written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century.
In this text, Taxila has been mentioned as the capital of the kingdom of Gandhara and a great center of learning. He said that Chinese travelers like Fa Hian (Faxian) and Huien Tsang (XuanZang) also spoke of Takshashila in their writings.
Many people visit Taxila today to experience the wonders of an ancient civilization, he added. Maqsood Ahmed said: The Muslim world, once a hub of intellectual wonders, has lost its glory, especially in the field of science and technology, but Taxila, if it is focused and elevated in order to promote science and technology, can become a center of excellence to attract foreign students, especially from the subcontinent, Central Asia and other countries.
He said that the old university which was a center of education and knowledge was established on the concept of creating a space where brilliant philosophical and scientific minds could come together for advanced learning during the Achaemenid Empire.
He said the oldest institution hosted debates, housed several libraries in its main premises and had given birth to prominent scholars and intellectuals such as Kotliya Chankia; adviser to the founder of the Mauryan Empire; Charaka, the Indian father of medicine, one of the main authorities of Ayurveda and the greatest Indian grammarian Paini of the 5th century BC.
Maqsood said the Persian conquest gave the University of Taxila a cosmopolitan environment in which many cultures and ethnicities were able to exchange knowledge, adding that the role of the ancient University of Taxila as a center of knowledge s’ is continued under the Maurya Empire and Greek rule (the Indo-Greeks) in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.
He said that when Alexander’s armies arrived in Punjab in the fourth century BC, Takshashila had already gained a reputation as an important seat of learning. So, on his return, Alexander took from there many scholars with him to Greece.
“The final blow, however, came from the Huns (also the destroyers of the Roman Empire) who by the 5th century had razed the institution,” he added. Abdul Nasir Khan, the curator of the Taxila Museum library, said students have come here from all over the world, including China, Babylon, Syria, Greece and the Indian subcontinent to learn .
He said that subjects such as science, mathematics, medicine, politics, war, astrology, astronomy, music, dance, religion, vedas, grammar, agriculture, surgery, commerce, futurology and philosophy had been taught on campus.
About 10,500 students were enrolled at the age of 16 after completing basic home education and secondary education in ashrams while the entrance exam in Takshashila was very difficult and barely three students out of 10 were admitted after testing. , he added. Pakistan can benefit from this rich cultural and historical diversity and make it a regional economic hub, he concluded.